March 4. 2024. 11:39

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Slovak MEPs urge von der Leyen to investigate Charleroi death

Eleven MEPs called for a thorough investigation into the death of a Slovak citizen – who died after being held in custody at Charleroi airport in 2018 – after it was announced that the charges against the responsible police officers were dropped.

In a letter to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, the MEPs described the decision of the Prosecution Office in Charleroi not to press charges against the police officers as “unacceptable“.

Jozef Chovanec was arrested at Charleroi Airport in 2018 after he caused a disturbance on a plane that was travelling to Slovakia. He was apprehended by police and video footage emerged of him banging his head against a wall until it bled and officers forcibly restraining him. Chovanec died in the hospital the next day.

MEP Miriam Lexmann (EPP), who initiated the letter plan, reported on the case on Wednesday at the European Parliament plenary in Brussels.

Slovak MEPs pointed out that the opinion of forensic experts, according to which Chovanec died of self-inflicted injuries, was questioned by another forensic expert, as well as by the victim’s relatives. They also pointed to questionable procedural decisions, including ignoring the witness to the arrest on the plane.

“The investigation has many contradictory steps. The most recent one is not to prosecute anyone for his death. We are once again appealing to the President of the European Commission and the Commissioner for Justice so that the European Commission deals with this case as promised. We again ask that they include this case in the regular monitoring of the situation of the rule of law in Belgium,” Lexmann said.

(Irena Jenčová |